By: Jason Sarney
The Miami Dolphins have a vast ocean full of possibilities this offseason yet the bedrock shook fans to their core on Tuesday when veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy was suddenly released only one year into the contract he signed just a season ago. During last year's offseason, the former Detroit Lion and New England Patriot was signed to a four-year, $51 million contract by Miami which $15 million was guaranteed at signing.
After a flurry of news reports on Tuesday with varying degrees of reporting, it is seemingly obvious that there could have been efforts to trade him, but ultimately it will lead to a release, thus saving Miami nearly $10 million in cap heading into 2021 while taking a dead cap hit of just over $4 million. This spikes Miami’s overall cap availability at $36 million, with more fat-cutting on the way in the coming weeks heading into the free agency period.
Before going into the objective of this piece and trying to find other potential veterans that could be finding their way on the cap-cut line, we're going to see reasons why Van Noy was expendable. As numerous people pointed out and again, as obvious as it is, the performance and progression-potential of linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel after his second season was a telltale sign that Miami could afford to make this severance.
When analyzing the time on field versus production Van Ginkel has extremely similar raw stats to Van Noy. Keep in mind that during the year Van Noy played in 14 games with 78% of the defensive snaps on the season, while Van Ginkel appeared in all 16 games yet at only 46% of that unit’s snaps. Van Ginkel also played 72% of the Dolphins special team snaps, which included one of his signature plays from 2020, that being a blocked punt against the Chargers.
Here is their tale-of-the-tape from 2020:
This was a no-brainer move, and an Van Ginkel extension should be happening in the next year, in this writer’s opinion. Using this mindset and outlook on which veterans may be expendable, here are the TOP 2 to circle in the coming days or weeks that could be out in Miami:
This is nothing at all against the longest-tenured Miami Dolphin and team captain. For six seasons, the free safety and leader has been stellar for this team, and a warrior playing through pain several times in 2020. However, in this business of the game, McCain and his contract become expendable when one sees its 2021 savings if he is released prior to June 1st.
There would be a cap savings of $5,660,000 against just a dead cap hit of $1,480,000. With young free safety Brandon Jones having a solid rookie season in his appearances, McCain could be one of dozens of veterans looking for a new home in 2021 across the NFL.
This is not a shocker as the Dolphins have a crowded room of serviceable targets such as DeVante Parker, Preston Williams, Lynn Bowden, Jr. and it’s likely they add to the room in free agency and/or the draft. This leaves several fringe targets on the chopping-block and Grant is top of that list. Although a top-end punt return man, Grant had his drop issues. His five seasons in Miami had highs and lows, but the overall future of this team should be improving and upgrading this room. Grant carries a savings of $2,887,000 and a cap hit if cut of $1,800,000.